Tuesday, June 03, 2008

My Summer Not-Reading List

On Sunday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette printed a list of the books NOT to read this summer. So I thought I would come up with a list of some of the books I have hated over the years.

I haven't necessarily hated all of them. Some of them were just annoying, while others induced a full-blown case of what I like to call "Page Rage." Some of them may be books you happen to love. Oh, well.

1) Pat Nixon: The Untold Story by Julie Nixon Eisenhower. I attempted to read this while I was on a First-Lady kick several years ago. I had just read Rosalyn Carter's auto-bio, as well as Barbara Bush's. Both were very interesting and Bush's especially was quite entertaining. I hadn't realized how funny she is. So I plunged into Pat Nixon's biography--written by her daughter--and truthfully could not get past the second chapter. I don't know if Julie is a boring writer or if her mother was just a boring person. So I skipped it and read Hillary Clinton's auto-bio instead, which I enjoyed. (Clinton's book, incidentally, make the Democrat-Gazette's bad-book list this past Sunday.)

2) The Liveliest Art by Arthur Knight. This was the textbook for a film history class I took in college. You would think a book chronicling the history of the film industry would be fascinating. Not this one. While plodding through this book for the class, I began to understand the phrase "bored to tears."

3) Preparing for Adolescence by James Dobson. At one time, this was required reading for all 12-year-olds living in Christian households. I found it more traumatizing than anything. For one thing, Dobson's awkward, mechanical description of sex makes me wonder if the man has ever had sex at all. And learning about my changing body from a middle-aged man was just plain creepy. I found Judy Blume's "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" much more helpful.

4) Now I Can Fly! by Jane McWhorter. Self-help books are annoying. Christian self-help books are worse. And Church of Christ Christian self-help books are downright scary. This was written by a preacher's wife from Abilene, TX, and was geared toward women struggling with their self-esteem. I guess. I've never read it. My grandmother gave it to me after her church had studied it in Ladies Class. I took it home, put it on the shelf and didn't touch it for almost eight years. Can you blame me? It has a chapter titled "I'm in Love with Me," for heaven's sake. Then one day, after my grandmother died, I decided to thumb through it out of curiosity. Tucked between the pages were four five-dollar bills. The lesson I learned is this: If someone gives you a book you think is crap, at least turn it upside-down and shake it in case there's money inside. Then you can thank the person for the money before they die.

I'm sure I've hated more books than these. I'll post them after doing some memory-repression therapy.



  • At Tue Jun 03, 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Carol said…

    Interesting list! I hated The Time Traveler's Wife, which is being made into a movie. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis and Standing In the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg also top my most hated list.

  • At Tue Jun 03, 10:51:00 AM, Blogger Karen said…

    Oh my gosh! I remember that last one. The ladies' class at the church I grew up in in MO used it one quarter (many, many moons ago). I remember thinking most of it was bunk as well.

  • At Tue Jun 03, 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Kelly said…

    Funny! That made me remember that I was SO excited when I went into the 4th grade. That meant I was old enough to finally check out "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" from the school library. That was a serious coming-of-age moment!

  • At Tue Jun 03, 01:52:00 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    ROFL on Preparing . . . My mom (ever the English teacher) assigned me a chapter a night when I was in 6th grade. . . then we had to have a "discussion" over it. @@

    Believe it or not, some couple from our church set up curriculum last summer for our going into 6th grade kids using this book (most awkward class Andy's ever taught, I think)!

  • At Tue Jun 03, 02:32:00 PM, Blogger KentF said…

    Hilarious. The Dobson note leads me to believe he's never personally produced anything not stupid. Our Sunday school class almost tore out eyes out watching the video version of "Bringing up Boys" 5 years ago or so. If I had been teaching - the plug would have been pulled after 3 weeks. I especially loved his diatribe against the Runaway Bride because the Richard Gere character made "men appear dumb". I guess he missed American Gigolo.

  • At Fri Jun 06, 06:57:00 PM, Blogger elizabeth said…

    I recently read a book for book club called Never Let Me Go.

    The premise is this...children are brought up in an orphanage, only they aren't real children. No, they are androids being brought up to grow human organs and then their bodies are harvested for their organs when they are adults. We follow several children on their journeys until they are all used up.

    That, my dear, was page rage!

  • At Wed Jun 11, 08:36:00 AM, Blogger Shanta said…

    Let's not forget "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" who dated and was married pretty much by the time it was available in Abilene.

  • At Tue Jun 24, 05:31:00 AM, Anonymous Brian Casey said…

    Thanks for the no-nonsense comment on Christian self-help. Glad someone has the guts to say that stuff tends to smell with a mighty smell.


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